Put the Right People in the Right Jobs

People who really know recruiting also know that the best way to understand the overall recruiting process is to visualize it as a subset of the common business practices of supply chain management, Six-Sigma quality and customer relationship management (CRM).

Recruiting cannot reach its optimal impact, nor can it help drive a firm’s “performance mindset,” if it views itself in isolation. Instead, it must view itself as part of the entire people/productivity process. It’s not enough “just to recruit them,” it’s equally important to look at the next step, which is to ensure that top performers and new hires are continually placed in the right job.

And after a period of time in any job, it’s also important to continually redeploy your employees into other “more appropriate” jobs. Unfortunately, we now know that two of the most common errors that managers make are 1) in placing the wrong people in the wrong jobs and 2) keeping them in these jobs for too long.

Right Person/Right Job for Top Performers

By “right person/right job” I don’t mean the traditional “skill fit,” but rather the underutilization of talent by putting top performers into inconsequential jobs and vice versa. Here’s a list of the 16 most common errors managers make in how they treat and place their top performers. The common errors are listed in descending order of importance (in terms of business impact). A placement error occurs if a manager…

  1. Fails to identify a firm’s “mission critical” positions, and then fails to focus their energies on these critical positions (10% of all jobs)
  2. Fails to identify top performers, and then fails to treat them differently than the average worker
  3. Allows a mission critical position to be left open/vacant
  4. Allows a mission critical position to be filled with a non-top performer
  5. Allows a top performer to remain in a non-mission critical position (generally because they assume that top performers will move on their own)
  6. Allows a top performer to have a “mediocre manager”
  7. Allows a top performer to be “stuck” in a mission critical position beyond their peak growth period
  8. Allows a “bottom performer” to remain on the same team as a top performer

Other management failures include…

  1. Providing little differentiation (less than 40%) in pay between the top and the average performers
  2. Allowing a low percentage of all employees’ pay to be at risk (less than 20%), contingent on performance
  3. Not knowing specifically what motivates, challenges and frustrates every top performer
  4. Not providing every top performer with the resources they need to in order to succeed (great teammates, budget, a plan and learning opportunities)
  5. Not providing every top performer with “stretch” goals and enough on-the-job P&L opportunities to prove to themselves and others what they can do
  6. Allowing a top performer to get a better offer from another firm prior to getting a “better” internal offer from their own firm
  7. Failing to continually “challenge” any employee to the limit of their expectations
  8. Not measuring and rewarding their managers for doing each of the above things


“Place them and forget them” is a common approach to recruiting. But it is equally important to ensure that the right people are placed in the right positions, so that top performers can optimize their learning and growth. Unfortunately, many managers take a cavalier approach to placing workers, and as a result, they have top performers working in non-essential jobs. In addition to impacting their morale and retention, it also affects the firm’s productivity, as well as its ability to maintain a competitive edge. If you want your team to be productive, it’s essential that you periodically conduct a “human capital audit” to ensure that the right people are placed in the right job!

Author’s Note: If this article stimulated your thinking and provided you with actionable tips, please take a minute to follow and/or connect with Dr. Sullivan on LinkedIn.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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